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Towergate could face FCA fine over ETV/Ucis advice

Towergate’s advice arm, Towergate Financial, is under investigation by the FCA over “issues” related to enhanced transfer value exercises and unregulated collective investment schemes.

The insurance broker’s annual results for 2013, published last week, reveal the firm is in discussions with the FCA and is carrying out a review “to identify whether any deficiency in the sales process has caused customer detriment”.

The company stopped advising on ETVs in Q4 2012.

Towergate says the investigation is at an early stage, with possible outcomes, including customer redress, changes to sales processes, a fine or no further action.

Towergate says: “Towergate is currently in discussions with the FCA relating to issues surrounding the sale and advice of two products, enhanced transfer values and unregulated collective investment schemes by its Towergate Financial business.

“The group is conducting a review to identify whether any deficiency in the sales process has caused customer detriment.”

It adds: “Any potential liability may be recoverable under our group insurance arrangements.

“Given the uncertainty around the investigation and the potential outcomes, no provision has been recognised. Towergate continues to work with the FCA in relation to this matter.”

Towergate posted a pre-tax loss of £41m for 2013, compared with a loss of £6.1m the previous year.

Towergate group chief executive Mark Hodges says profits were negatively impacted by acquisition expenses, with the firm buying 16 businesses in the 12 months to 31 December 2013.

Earlier this year, Towergate Financial announced it had reached an agreement with West Brom Building Society to offer whole of market, face-to-face advice on investments, pensions and protection through 37 branches in the West of England and Wales.

The service will be staffed by 20 West Brom employees. They will be employed by Towergate and offer the advice service in-branch.

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